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Probate & Guardianship

Portability & Timing of Transferring the Estate Tax Exemption to a Surviving Spouse

September 16th, 2022

Posted in Probate & Guardianship,Tax Law & IRS Defense,Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning

An estate tax return (Form 706) must be filed if the gross estate of a decedent, increased by the decedent’s adjusted taxable gifts and specific gift tax exemption, is valued at more than the filing threshold for the year of the decedent’s death. The filing threshold for 2022 is $12,060,000. The threshold is adjusted for inflation and increases each year. An estate tax return also must be filed if the estate elects to transfer any deceased spousal unused exclusion (DSUE) amount to a surviving spouse, regardless of the size of the gross estate or amount of adjusted taxable gifts. The election to transfer a DSUE amount to a surviving spouse is known as the “portability” election.


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Can a Step-Brother that is a Nonresident of Florida Act as Personal Representative?

May 23rd, 2022

Posted in Probate & Guardianship,Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning

Florida law provides restrictions on who can serve as personal representative (i.e. executor of an estate) when that person is not domiciled in or resident of Florida. A common question we receive when drafting a will for a client is whether the client’s step-sibling (or other step-relative) can serve as personal representative even though the step-sibling (or other step-relative) is not a resident of Florida.


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Who Gets My Property If I Don’t Have a Will?

March 14th, 2022

Posted in Probate & Guardianship,Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning

Many people believe that if they die without a will, the state (or government) gets their property.  While this is possible, it is very unlikely to occur.  So, what happens to your property if you die without a will?

When a person dies without a will, they die intestate (whereas dying with a will is called testate).  The Florida Statutes, under Part I of Chapter 732, titled Intestate Succession, presents a hierarchy of classes of people who are to inherit your “intestate estate” if you do not have a will.  That hierarchy is as follows:


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Understanding Death Taxes

February 14th, 2022

Posted in Asset Protection,Probate & Guardianship,Tax Law & IRS Defense,Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning

Many people worry about filing or paying taxes to IRS or the federal government at death. The truth of the matter is that very few need to be concerned. According to IRS data, just 0.15% of decedents needed to file an estate tax return (Form 706) in 2019, and only 0.07% will pay any estate tax. That’s lower than the historical 1% to 2% share. Note there are some states that also have an estate or inheritance tax. Florida is not one of those states.


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Maybe You do Need a Trust – Here’s Why

December 1st, 2021

Posted in Asset Protection,Business & Corporate Law,Probate & Guardianship,Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning

People need an estate plan if they want to ensure that their intentions will be honored after death with respect to the distribution of their assets. If you have an estate plan in place, does it also include a trust (sometimes called a living trust or a revocable trust)? If your current estate plan only consists of a last will and testament, you may want to consider also creating a trust.


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Compensation & Fees for Personal Representatives, Trustees, and Attorneys in Florida Estates and Trusts

September 15th, 2021

Posted in Asset Protection,Probate & Guardianship,Tax Law & IRS Defense,Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning

Under Florida law, the personal representative of an estate (sometimes also called an executor) and the trustee of a trust are entitled to compensation, as are the attorneys who represent the personal representative and trustee.

Compensation of Personal Representative The personal representative is entitled to a commission from the estate assets, which can be calculated using a percentage of the inventory value of the probate estate assets and the income earned during administration. For a formal probate administration, the following table sets forth what amount is deemed to be reasonable compensation:


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Guardianship for Your Minor Children can be Avoided

May 21st, 2021

Posted in Asset Protection,Probate & Guardianship,Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning

Florida law requires the establishment of a guardianship for the person or property of a minor under certain circumstances. 

Person: A guardian of the person of the minor may be required when the minor’s natural guardians are unavailable or unable to serve as the custodian of the child (i.e., due to death, disability, or incarceration, etc.) and no appropriate alternative exists.


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Top Six Questions on Last Will & Testaments

March 19th, 2021

Posted in Asset Protection,Probate & Guardianship,Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning

What is a Will?

A Last Will and Testament (often just called a “will”) is a written direction controlling the disposition of property at death. The laws of each state set the formal requirements for a legal will. In Florida:

  • The maker of the will (called the testator) must be at least 18 years old.
  • The testator must be of sound mind at the time the will is signed.
  • The will must be written.
  • The will must be witnessed and notarized in the special manner provided by law.
  • It is necessary to follow exactly the formalities required for the execution of a will.
  • To be effective, the will must be proved in and allowed by the probate court.

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